A 2018 study sponsored by the Journal for Evolutionary Biology surveyed over 8500 women to identify their preferences on men with and without facial hair. The study used photo-altering technology to show men with no facial hair, then advance to “scrub” facial hair, then on to a full beard.
Surprisingly, as reported by Indy Week, virtually all of the women preferred men with facial hair as their choice for a relationship, whether short-term or long-term.
However, based on the more recent results of a 2019 Swiss study by the Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland, it might be time to rethink those preferences.
The focus of the study was to determine if there was any inherent health or safety risk by using MRI machines in hospitals to test dogs for head or spinal injuries. Since most veterinary clinics cannot support the cost of a machine on their own, the study aimed to find if dual-purpose machines caused issues of contamination for humans.
Surprisingly, the results turned out exactly the opposite findings. The recently-published study concluded that men with beards have much higher levels of bacteria in their hair than the dogs do in their fur. Thirty dogs of various breeds and ages were tested, along with 18 men of various ages, all with beards.
The hair samples from the dogs were taken from between the shoulder blades, which is the location where most canine skin infections occur. And, going beyond just the presence of bacteria, only 23 of the 30 dogs had “high” levels of bacteria, while all 18 men had high levels.
To compound the risk, only four dogs had positive tests for the presence of human-pathogenic microbes, while seven men did. These microbes, while not uncommon to be found on skin, can have serious complications if introduced into the blood stream.
As reported in the Epoch Times, “The researchers found a significantly higher bacterial load in specimens taken from the men’s beards compared with the dogs’ fur,” stated Professor Andreas Gutzeit from the Hirslanden Clinic in Switzerland. “On the basis of these findings, dogs can be considered as clean compared with bearded men.”
In their take on the news, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, “Dogs are no risk to humans if they use the same MRI.”
As might be expected, bearded men rallied in defense of their facial hair. The founder of the Beard Liberation Front, Keith Flett, commented, “There seems to be a constant stream of negative stories about beards that suggest it’s more about pogonophobia than anything else.” Pogonophobia is defined as an irrational fear of beards.
But wait, don’t reach for your razor just yet. The study is based on a very limited sample size, and it could very well be that all humans, not just men with beards, carry these same microbes and bacteria with them.
Some suggest that you might find similar results by taking samples of hair from women’s heads. The authors of the study concluded, “there is no reason to believe that women may harbor less bacteriological load than bearded men.”
Of greater concern for the researchers was the potential for humans leaving pathogenic materials on the MRI equipment, which the study showed remain even after sanitizing the surface.
The team found that, “The estimated number of healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in US hospitals was calculated to be approximately 1.7 million patients per year,” the authors wrote. Around 100,000 people die as a result of those infections every year.” In fact, humans left more contamination on the equipment than dogs did.
“The central question should perhaps not be whether we should allow dogs to undergo imaging in our hospitals,” the team concluded, “but rather we should focus on the knowledge and perception of hygiene and understand what poses real danger and risk to our patients.”